Facing Interviews

Interviews – many dread it & many take it as a cakewalk. So what are the things that you need to do to make it a cakewalk for you. To be honest interviews are very simple at least the soft skills part of it where you are being judged on your attitude and personal interests rather than technical knowledge. Here are a few things that can make it like a mechanical process so simple that you can sleep walk through it, well hopefully.
1. Dress Appropriately – It is simple but really important. I have seen best candidates being not selected for the only reason that they did not dress appropriately for the interview. Companies are very particular about company culture. This is something that needs to be respected and if someone dresses up inappropriately it sends loud and clear message that the person will be a threat to the company culture and that may lead to behavioral issues e.t.c. It also shows a rebellious attitude which no one would like to accept within an organization. Keep it simple go for interviews in formal dressing until you work for advertising, media e.t.c. where casual wear is the order of the day.
2. Introduction – Keep it crisp and clear. Show how your interests, education are aligned to the company/job that you have applied for(but do not overdo it). You can always have other interests which need not be in line with you role in organization. E.g – if you are applying for Accountant that doesn’t mean you should not tell them that you like bungee jumping. At the same time you should be careful enough not to say that you hate details and cannot sit in one place and work for a long time as that is something which you will do in your role. Simple isn’t it.
3. Know about the company – Get useful info about the company from its website, people working in the company. Now what is useful information can depend on many factors. E.g. if you have not heard of this company before you must find out how old is the company. Every company drives a culture. Quite often people have left because they could not adjust to the company culture – cultural shock.
Talk to people who have worked for the company or are currently working in the company.
Talk to people who are working in the function or department that you are going to join. They will have hands on knowledge of the expectations and if you are really lucky they may give you an insight on what exactly are the constraints of the company at the moment where company can or cannot compromise. This may be helpful at the time of salary negotiation e.t.c.
Sometimes people may give an extreme view about the company being very bad or very good, but be careful always follow the middle path. Don’t go with an idealistic or pessimistic view of the company until you have many people coming with the same view.
4.Give clear-cut and realistic answers – Now this isn’t tricky but many a times lack of focus or preparation makes people give out foolish answers and that one answer can tilt the result away from you. E.g. how long do you think you will take to move to the role of a manager and you say 4-6 months. This is not realistic answer in most of the cases and makes HR people think that either you are not realistic or your expectations are too high for the company to fulfill. It may make them think that you will lose focus as soon as you realize that the period is not 4-6 months but 2-3 years instead. Now we cannot blame the HR professionals for this. These are the things you could have checked before attending the interview.
5.Be Honest – The person who is interviewing you does the same job all the time and hence needless to say knows how to read between lines. If there are things that you do not know then its advisable to be honest and tell that you don’t know rather than cooking a story and ending up messing the interview. An interviewer will rather take someone who is honest than someone who acts over-smart. An honest person learns what he/she doesn’t know but someone who finds it difficult to accept ignorance never learns. Also it is not a SIN to not know something and if you are smart you can add a small sentence after admitting ignorance that you will see that you find out about this later. The key is not to sound fake. It is very visible to those eyes who interview you, remember.
6.Body language, confidence, conviction– Now these are finer things that make a lot of difference when the competition is really tough. Some of it comes by habit. Rest – if you have taken care of homework like finding out about the company, you have clarity of thought on what are you going to say to tricky questions or questions you do not have an answer for e.t.c then body language, confidence & conviction will automatically come. A mock interview in front of a mirror also helps giving you final touch on these fine points.
7.Prepare your answers – Many are generic questions asked by almost all companies and hence you should have answers ready for these questions. It’s not always good to be creative and try to prepare answers in advance, of course don’t mug it up and give out answers like a parrot, that’s the other extreme. Remember the middle path. Some of these questions are:
Why do you want to join this company?
Why did you leave your last job? Never portray your last company in bad picture.
How much time do you think you need to grow to the next level?
What will you do in case of an emergency situation in your role?
Last but not the least:
8.Prepare your questions that you will ask – Keep in mind the questions you are going to ask will tell the company what are your priorities. So if you only ask about salary then you are joining only to get a raise. Well, there are no rights or wrong questions, but keep in mind your questions will reveal a lot about your priorities. Let’s say you ask about what are the primary expectations from you if you join and other questions revolving around the job profile to the interviewer it can be a very positive sign telling him that you are very much interested in joining primarily because of the opportunity to serve in that role.

I am sure if you do a bit of ground work clearing an HR Interview round will become a cakewalk, if not it can spoil your chances and you may repent making silly mistakes later.

Best Wishes…

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~ by Harsh Bhushan on March 20, 2010.

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